Fed on his loss to Djoko at the weekend....

'He came back, he played I well, I did not play so well at the end. I have only myself to blame.'
Journalist asks Federer, 'Do you find it amazing the Djoko hits two blinding forehands match point down two years in a row?'

Federer answers, 'Well that's why we watch sports, we don't know the outcome, everybody has a chance, till the very end it can still turn; that's what we love about the sport but is tough and cruel sometimes.'
If you want to play, accept all eventualities of that decision to take part - that's the real deal of competitive sport!

Developing youngsters....

I have the dubious honour this year of managing my son's U9 Football team. In a discussion with other managers and coaches last night a very interesting point was made: In many European countries, the Netherlands being one, results are never recorded in youth football, often up to the 14&U age-groups.

Why? Because they don't want youngsters doing the easy thing and hoofing the ball up field to be safe and protect the 'result'. No, they'd like that same youngster, under no pressure, to look up, dribble perhaps, and play the smart pass AT THE COST of losing the ball and conceding a goal. The English FA is over the next couple of years going to adopt this philosophy in an effort to up-skill our youngsters coming through the clubs.

How orientated are we towards the 'result' in tennis? Is it costing our athletes the chance to really develop?

Message for today

Roger Federer said yesterday after his first round win at the US Open: 'I don't care how I do it. It doesn't need to be pretty. I don't think I've ever played my very, very best in the first round.' This 'substance over style' thinking from perhaps the most artistic, creative player of all time...

Fighting for 'every ball' is not a pretty business and there are no judges beside the court awarding style points; the only points you win are those in which your opponent fails to return the ball.

Halton Everyball International & Aegon Junior International Tournaments 2011 at Halton Tennis Centre

For the second year running Halton Tennis Centre hosted a prestigious Aegon Tennis Europe 16 & Under tournament alongside the Everyball International Academy Grade 3 Junior tournament last week. This year saw a larger entry than last year due to the increase in the number of age categories. There were 298 entries of which of which there were 249 players involved both in singles and doubles events, an increase of 104 players compared to last year. The U16 Tennis Europe Event also attracted a larger base of European and Foreign players than last year with players coming from Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Malta, Sweden, Bulgaria, France and Argentina.

The Boys TE U16’s final was an all British affair between no 1 seed Julian Cash (Sussex,TE ranking 24 and runner up last year) and qualifier Cameron Hawkins (Kent). This time Julian went a step further winning convincingly 6-2 6-0. The boys doubles however was won by the German/Bulgarian pair of Joey Johannes Hillebrand and Kaloyan Mihalyov beating by a walkover the Maltese brothers Bernard & Matthew Cassar Torregiani in the final.

The Girl’s TE U16’s final was again an all British battle between Hertfordshire's Anna Popescu (no 8 seed & Wildcard) and Hannah Brett (no4 seed) with Anna Popescu's more aggressive play, edging her through to a 6-1 6-2 victory. The girls doubles was between British pair Alice Patch (Halton) & Cecily Wuenscher and German/Russian pair of Nika Hein and Anastasia Prokhodimova with the British pair eventually winning a feisty match 6-2 4-6 10-5.

Following her Tennis Europe success Anna Popescu from Berkhamsted's Elite Academy featured in 2 more singles finals. In the Everyball International Grade 3 U14’s singles Anna beat Chloe Halliday (Surrey) in a very tight match 4-6 6-4 10-7. She followed this up by completing a clean sweep when she won the U18’s girls singles final, beating Halton's Alice Patch 6-2 6-4.

The rest of the age-group finals were dominated by players from Halton Tennis Centre. The U8’s event was won by Joel James winning his round robin group by 1 point! Halton's Joshua Bright was runner-up (pictured below).

The U9’s boys was won by Angus Whittam (Halton) beating William Daniel (Truro LTC Cornwall) 7-3 7-4 in the final.

The U9’s girls was won by Lara Hill (Halton) beating Natalya Ogunwale (Gosling Tennis Centre, Hertfordshire) 4-7 7-4 11-9 in a hard fought contest.

The U10’s boys was won by Daniel Martin (Hertfordshire &Letchworth Tennis Club) beating Daniel Dean (Buckinghamshire and Halton) 4-0 4-1.

The U10’s girls was played between Britney De Silva (Gosling Tennis Centre & Middlesex) & Indu Ragunather (Buckinghamshire & Halton) with Indu coming out on top in a hard fought battle winning 2-4 4-1 10-7.

The U12’s boy’s final was another thriller with Roberto Preka no2 seed (Islington Tennis Centre & Middlesex) beating Jack Molloy no1 seed (Halton & Buckinghamshire) in an epic final 6-2 4-6 16-14 . The boys doubles was won by Jake Williams & Alex Chan (both Halton players) winning both matches in the group event.

The U12’s girls final was played between No. 1 seed Amelia Campbell (Langley Tennis Club) and Vaishali Jorge (Middlesex) with Amelia winning 6-3 6-1. The girls doubles final was won by Britney De Silva (Gosling Tennis Centre & Middlesex) & Mandi Furaji (Middlesex) beating Halton's Lauren Armstrong & Poppy King 6-2 6-2.

The boys U14’s finals was between the top 2 seeds from Hertfordshire when Benjamin Wood (no1 seed) beat Charles Broom (no2 seed) 6-1 6-4. The boys doubles was an all-Halton affair when Thomas Schmidt & Oliver Levi beat Jack Clark & Oscar Glenister 6-0 6-1.

The U18’s boy’s singles was between Adam Chan (Halton) and Aleksandr Ernepesov (no1 seed) with Ernespesov confirming his status and winning 7-6 6-1. The boys doubles was won by James Gammell & Gavin McKinlay (Halton ) who beat Jack Mordey (Halton) & Harry Mabbit (Bedfordshire) 7-5 6-1.

In conclusion, it was once again a very enjoyable week, full of quality tennis and memorable matches. Tournament Director, Phil Hill expressed his gratitude to all the volunteers, staff, officials, referees, parents and in particular the players for making this a successful tournament in its 2nd year and looked forward to making the event even more of a success next year.

(Report by Camilla Hayward)

Quote for the week

'A loser isn't the one who comes last, it's the one who sits and watches' - Sheila Pistorius, in encouraging her son Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee to run the qualifying time for an Olympics - for the 400 metres and 4 x 400 metres relay - and to be selected for the World Athletics Championships.

Oscar Pistorius is quoted in today's Sunday Times Style magazine in an article by Andrew Longmore as saying: 'You could use all of what's happened to me as a reason to fail - you've got no legs, such a shame.....but I don't want to live my life with people saying, 'that's too bad', filling my life with those negatives.'

Longmore goes on to write: 'He doesn't do negatives: problems are 'challenges'. Fate dealt him another blow two years ago, when a boating accident left him with a broken jaw and cheekbone, 170 stitches in his face and a long layoff from the running track. 'I feared my athletics career was over,' he says now. 'I decided when I came out of surgery that I needed to change my outlook towards my training, and work to be the best athlete I can be. I am now more focused than I have ever been. My life is simple: training and recovery. That's it.'

Interested in communication?

Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'Outliers' has some really interesting thoughts about communication - see Chapter 7, 'The ethnic theory of plane crashes'.

'The typical accident involves seven consecutive human errors.....These seven errors, furthermore, are rarely problems of knowledge or flying skill. It's not that the pilot has to negotiate some critical technical maneuver and fails. The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.......What was required of Ratwatte was that he communicate, and communicate not just in the sense of issuing commands but also in the sense of encouraging and cajoling and calming and negotiating and sharing information in the clearest and most transparent manner possible.'

Of course we all have our own potential plane crashes (in the metaphorical sense). How are we communicating either in them or to avoid them?

Perhaps Gladwell's 6 keys here will help:

- encouraging (to give courage!)
- cajoling
- calming
- negotiating
- sharing information
- being clear and transparent

National title for Halton Team and Everyball International Academy players

Halton 12 and under boys team were crowned National Champions last month at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, after confirming their status as top seeds at the Aegon Team Tennis Finals.

Halton qualified through the initial stages of the competition beating clubs in the South-West group from Oxstalls, St Peter's Tennis Academy, Coombe Dingle and David Lloyd Bristol along the way.
This unbeaten run then continued at the finals in Roehampton where they faced Hallamshire in the semi-final, winning 4-1 and then beating David Lloyd Raynes Park in the final by the same margin.

The team of Barney Smith, Michael Shaw, Sam Gough, Jack Molloy, Alex Chan, Oscar Glenister, Sebastian Harris and Jake Williams all played their part towards the title. Team captain James Morgan commented 'This is a
tremendous achievement for Halton Tennis Centre/Everyball International Academy and our team of boys. They have represented themselves admirably through the whole campaign and showed great fight and team spirit along the way.'

How we see the world

We see the world according to certain paradigms - broadly speaking philosophical or theoretical frameworks of any kind - ways of seeing our world and the things around us. Paradigm shifts originated within the scientific world, but the term has spilled over into many areas of our lives and refer to those moments where we thought one way about something and then, through some intervention or other, take on a completely new view.

Take the picture below. What did you see first? Duck or Rabbit? How do you respond to someone who sees the Rabbit first? The Duck? Are we open to possible paradigm shifts in our lives or are we so busy protecting those we have (in some cases) unwittingly adopted?

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers looks at a major paradigm shift in personal computing:

'If you talk to veterans of Silicon Valley, they'll tell you that the most important date in the history of the personal computer revolution was January 1975. That was when the magazine Popular Mechanics ran a cover story on an extraordinary machine called the Altair 8800. The Altair cost $397. It was a do-it-yourself contraption that you could assemble at home......For years, every hacker and electronics whiz had dreamt of the day when a computer would come along that was small and expensive enough for an ordinary person to use and own. That day had finally arrived.....If you're too old in 1975, then you'd already have a job at IBM out of college, and once people started at IBM, they had a real hard time making the transition to the new world....Why screw around with these little pathetic computers? If you were more than a few years out of college in 1975, then you belonged to the old paradigm. You had just bought a house. You're married. A baby is on the way. You're in no position to give up a good job and pension for some pie-in-the-sky $397 computer kit.'

3 men were at the perfect age, time and place to take on the new paradigm in 1975 - Bill Gates, Paul Allen (Founders of Microsoft) and Steve Jobs (cofounder of Apple) - all born between 1953 and 1955. Fascinating read if you get the chance.

Courage

I was inspired earlier this week by the word courage. It can be defined as the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. Ernest Hemingway famously defined courage as 'grace under pressure'.

When a soldier prepares for battle, what does he require most of all? Courage! Courage to put his life on the line, courage to make a stand and not be moved.

Sometimes we forget that stepping on court is like stepping onto the metaphorical battle field, and what we require most is that same forever-old quality of courage. Courage to put yourself, your game, your reputation on the line, courage to make a stand and dig in when things are not going your way, and courage to simply not yield or be moved until the day is won.

I think I'd like to be known as a courageous competitor - the guy who simply would not back off, who would always make a stand and not be moved, who would battle on to the final ball.

How about you?